It is common for people to experience a sense of well-being, satisfaction, or delight—a feeling that their life is going well. However, with the bustle of day-to-day life, and especially in situations of conflict, these emotions can be fleeting.
In families that are in the heat of divorce and conflict, the practice of gratitude is more challenging. Buried in frustration, resentment, and hurt, it is certainly harder to be, and stay, in touch with the positive memories and experiences that were created with an ex-spouse. Yet, if unearthed, there are many things to be grateful for: co-parenting success, positive personality traits like persistence or bravery, etc.
In most cases, the biggest blessing is the children that were created from the union. With them in mind, it is not only possible, but important, for people experiencing conflict to embrace gratitude—a mindful practice that requires focus and attention on the gifts and blessings in life.
Gratitude can be achieved through quiet reflection. This technique, called mindfulness, allows for a person to be attuned to what is at the present moment in time, without distraction.
Being mindful of blessings ensures that one doesn’t just “go through life without paying attention.” For example, upon seeing a beautiful sunset, one would stop, look (again), and think, “Wow! That’s a beautiful sunset.” In a high-conflict scenario, one can choose to focus on the positive: “I’m grateful that you picked the kids up on time,” or “I’m grateful that you have a great relationship with them.”
In the midst of tension, it is a struggle to remember that there are experiences and memories that will always be an important part of life, even after the divorce is finalized. Recently, a client’s son had his 19th birthday, and she called his father to share the pleasurable memory of his birth. Upon receiving the call, the father assumed that she was calling with bad news. She explained that there was nobody else in the world that could share the memory of her son’s birth with her in the way that he could. During that call, she experienced her own moment of gratitude.
The experience of gratitude requires a shift in perspective from the struggle of the past to the recognition of the positive in the present.
If you would like assistance on how to bring gratitude into your daily experience, contact us. But first, take a look at the sunset.
My Divorce Recovery
Jeffrey Zimmerman, Ph.D., ABPP
Lauren Behrman, Ph.D.